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Title: An examination of older people's experiences of moving to residential care
Author: Towers, Christopher James
ISNI:       0000 0004 2683 0504
Awarding Body: Nottingham Trent University
Current Institution: Nottingham Trent University
Date of Award: 2008
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Moving to residential care assumes particular significance for the increasing numbers of individuals who find themselves in need of support as they grow older. This qualitative research examined the experiences of twelve older people, living in an East Midlands City, who had moved into residential care in the late 1990s. The semi-structured interviews with older people, examining the impact of life histories, were preceded by interviews with twenty-nine practitioners working across a range of health and social care settings. Practitioners were interviewed in order to hear their perspectives on relocation to residential care and to contrast their broad experiences and ideas with older people's. The older people had been living in residential care for different lengths of time, some weeks and some months. They were located in private, housing association and local authority residential care homes. Other methods included an examination of demographic data and reflective analysis through a research diary. The research is placed within historical contexts, undertaken five years after the introduction of the 1990 NHS and Community Care Act. This research highlights older people's experiences in the journey from their own private home to residential care. It discusses how older people experienced residential care, compares the perspectives of older people and practitioners, evaluates the influence of the life course and various social actors and identifies successful movers. In identifying 'successful' movers the research critiques earlier research that has assumed residential care to be a default choice and has not accounted for the range of qualitative experiences of moves and their outcomes. 'Success' is evaluated using a conceptual framework that draws from the concepts of homeostasis, resilience and reserve. Successful moves are defined as those in which the older person displayed a sense of homeostasis and balanced their internal needs with the external surroundings of residential care. To do this they needed to have enough 'reserve' in terms family relationships and social networks. Others who did not achieve homeostasis did not possess sufficient reserve to feel comfortable in their surroundings but still utilised some coping strategies and had enough resilience in order to cope in the setting. Interviewed practitioners were unaware of the range of older people's responses to relocation and lived in very different conceptual worlds. Whether older people were successful or not the research's contributions to knowledge include the finding that for some older people residential care was more of an active choice than a default one. They found an active expression of their own wants and needs, challenging the idea that community care is always preferred to residential care. The research also discovered that older people, whether achieving homeostasis or not can still show resilience within such settings and did this through family, social networks and coping strategies. The findings inform policy and practice by highlighting how older people can utilise resources to sustain themselves within residential care.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available